The Political Economy of Reform

Lessons from Pensions, Product Markets and Labour Markets in Ten OECD Countries

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This report examines why some policy reforms get implemented and others languish by examining 20 structural reform efforts in 10 OECD countries over the past two decades. The case studies cover a wide variety of reform attempts in three key areas: pensions, labour- and product-market regulation. Key factors in the political, economic and reform-specific arenas are identified as helping or hindering reform, and these findings are cross-checked using a relatively simple set of Spearman rank correlations. The report’s two-pronged analytical approach – quantitative and qualitative – results in unique insights for policy makers designing, adopting and implementing structural policy reforms.

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Retail opening hours, 1999-2003

In late 1999, a combination of pressure from some of the federal states and the publication of a pair of conflicting studies commissioned by two federal ministries triggered renewed discussion of the need to liberalise Germany’s restrictive law on opening hours for retail shops. The ensuing three-and-a-half years of debate resulted only in a modest further liberalisation. In the end, liberalisation came about as a result of a judicial action rather than the normal policy process.

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